Beyond Our Borders by Paul Ecke III

Beyond Our Borders by Paul Ecke III

With the exception of mums and a few other classes of plants, most vegetative genera, like spring annuals, cut flowers, perennials and tropicals, are produced outside the United States today. The trend started in the early 1970s, when rising energy costs forced many domestic cut flower growers offshore, with cutting producers following.

For poinsettias, the offshore movement has allowed for more competitive prices, increasing availability and substantially more volume to satisfy increasing consumer demand. After adjusting for inflation, the price of an unrooted poinsettia cutting has declined by more than 70 percent over the past 25 years.

Contrary to the belief that labor is the biggest savings component, energy and infrastructure costs were the factors that were most positive when Ecke Ranch moved offshore. Additionally, the offshore movement allows Ecke to produce more than five times the volume of cuttings that were produced domestically in 1983. This has allowed us to remain competitive in the global market, as well as ensure the poinsettia is enjoyed by many more consumers than 25 years ago.

An interesting contrast is that of the garment industry. Most garment assembly is now done offshore. There was an initial push by that industry to Central America, then as labor costs and governments changed favorably, the garment industry set up shop in many other countries. Now, there is resurgence back to Central America–and not due to labor. Proximity to market and freight costs now weigh more heavily into decisions about where final assembly should be done. Additionally, advantages in exchange rate and labor costs have diminished as world economies have equalized.

We believe those same forces apply to horticulture. They will help shape how and where production occurs in the future. A contemporary example is the dramatic change that has occurred in finished production between Canadian and U.S. growers–a simple change to exchange rate has dramatically reshaped the product mix, customer profile and shipping ranges for Canadian produced plants.

There are a number of factors pulling us in different directions. Ecke Ranch doesn’t see USDA requirements lessening, but there are more and more crops authorized to be shipped into the U.S. in forms other than an unrooted cutting. Longer-term trends in exchange rates, interest rates, energy and other inputs also will influence where production occurs. Additionally, sustainability factors can clash with zero-tolerance requirements for pests and diseases at port of entry. While substantial savings in heat and other inputs suggest even more production will occur offshore, it is not certain how much more growth of offshore production will occur in the future. Climate and proximity to market are critical.

For many years, Ecke has emphasized its own production. About 70 percent of all production is produced via company-owned farms, with the balance being produced at third-party contractors. Specialization and internal controls for quality and efficiency drive this focus. We believe we can better manage intricate and exact requirements of customers and product forms using our own farms. We have also invested heavily in internal information systems, so the customer experience, product inventory and quality can be managed cohesively.

Gone are the days when a company could specialize successfully in one aspect of product development or production. Successful companies will now own genetics, offshore production and systems and onshore value adding and distribution functions.

Leave a Reply

More From Varieties...
Anna Chernyavsky

January 20, 2017

New Director of Sales for Bedding Plants and Perennials at Danziger

Anna Chernyavsky, who joined Danziger in August 2016, will be in charge of the U.S. and United Kingdom markets.

Read More
Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer BloomStruck’ (Bailey Nurseries)

January 19, 2017

Bailey Nurseries Hosting Spring Previews in February

The previews, which provide education, new variety information, and retail support programs, will take place in Illinois, Minnesota, and Boston.

Read More
Selecta Sponsor bed at Raker trial gardens

January 18, 2017

2016 C. Raker & Sons Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for C. Raker & Sons in Litchfield, MI.

Read More
Latest Stories
Anna Chernyavsky

January 20, 2017

New Director of Sales for Bedding Plants and Perennials…

Anna Chernyavsky, who joined Danziger in August 2016, will be in charge of the U.S. and United Kingdom markets.

Read More
Hydrangea ‘Endless Summer BloomStruck’ (Bailey Nurseries)

January 19, 2017

Bailey Nurseries Hosting Spring Previews in February

The previews, which provide education, new variety information, and retail support programs, will take place in Illinois, Minnesota, and Boston.

Read More
Selecta Sponsor bed at Raker trial gardens

January 18, 2017

2016 C. Raker & Sons Field Trials Results

Check out the 2016 field trials results for C. Raker & Sons in Litchfield, MI.

Read More
Joe Cimino, Sakata Seed America

January 17, 2017

Sakata Seed Names New Senior Sales Manager for Ornament…

Joe Cimino comes to Sakata with past experience at Sun Gro and Florexpo.

Read More
JinPin Flower Seedling Company partners

January 17, 2017

Ernst Benary Partners With Chinese Young Plant Grower o…

The partnership creates a new company called Jinpin Flower Seedling Company, which will focus on providing young plants to the rapidly growing Chinese bedding plant market.

Read More
Dipladenia Sundenia

January 11, 2017

New Tropical and Foliage Plants That Offer Hidden Benef…

Tropical and foliage plants can offer extra paybacks to your customers in terms of health-promoting benefits such as filtering the air, reducing stress, and absorbing noise. Consider these new varieties, hitting the retail market in 2017, for your product mix.

Read More
craspedia-golf-beauty-danziger-feature

January 9, 2017

Growing Tips for Craspedia ‘Golf Beauty’

Laura Robles of Mast Young Plants offers advice on ‘Golf Beauty,’ a novelty plant with can’t-miss yellow flower heads and silver foliage that blooms throughout the summer.

Read More
Bride with wedding orchids.

January 7, 2017

How to Stand Out in the Orchid Market

With the popularity of the Phalaenopsis orchid growing and its saturation in the market, orchid growers are hunting for new ways to stand out from their competitors.

Read More
California Coast

January 3, 2017

Expect Big Changes for California Spring Trials 2017

California Spring Trials 2017 will be here before you know it. Find out what you can look forward to and get a head start on planning and registering for your trip.

Read More
westerlay-orchids-feature

January 1, 2017

How Westerlay Orchids Solved Its Bacteria Problem

Water-borne bacteria was causing havoc with Westerlay Orchids’ production, so the company took preventative action to ensure the health of its plants.

Read More
nepeta-purple-wave-with-roses

December 30, 2016

Allan Armitage: Plants That Can Bring Success in the Ne…

Are you wondering which plants to grow? Here are some perennials, annuals, and herbs that are gaining popularity.

Read More
Honeybelle combo

December 27, 2016

19 New Combos for Containers Big and Small

Check out 19 combos and mixes new for the retail marketplace in 2017 that offer something for every container type.

Read More
sun-parasol-original-crimson-web

December 20, 2016

Suntory Launches Unrooted Cuttings Program for Sun Para…

While the domestically produced rooting program for the Sun Parasol will continue, growers who would like to purchase unrooted cuttings will have the opportunity for the Sun Parasol Original varieties and Garden Crimson.

Read More
santos flare

December 20, 2016

Ball Horticultural Expands Potted Plant Offerings With …

Ex-Plant, which specializes in potted plants, will become a part of Ball’s PanAmerican Seed division.

Read More

December 16, 2016

Please Take Greenhouse Grower’s 2016 Poinsettia S…

Are plant sales up or down compared to last year? How did Black Friday set the tone for this season? What varieties and sizes were your best sellers? Did you try anything new this year to appeal to younger consumer demographics? We tackle all of these questions and more to help you understand the trends in Greenhouse Grower's 2016 Poinsettia Survey.

Read More

December 13, 2016

Dümmen Orange Shares Trends And Season-Extending Tips A…

As a purveyor of a wide collection of poinsettia and potted plant genetics, Dümmen Orange offered attendees a look at current trends – and a glimpse into the future – at its annual event in Columbus, OH.

Read More
Lollipop Flaming Hot Melon combo

December 13, 2016

21 New Combos For Spring To Fall Color In 2017

With the flood of new varieties and flower colors coming on the market, there is no end to the combinations and mixes available for hanging baskets and containers.

Read More
all-america-selections-new-website-home-page

December 3, 2016

New Mobile Responsive Website From All-America Selectio…

All-America Selections has launched a newly redesigned and revamped mobile-responsive website that includes a more attractive design, enhanced search tools, and easier and simpler navigation.

Read More